Halitosis: Causes of Bad Breath Image

Bad breath, known in the medical community as halitosis, is a common condition that can cause embarrassment for sufferers. While mouthwashes and breath mints can cover up bad breath, they often don ‘t address the root causes of bad breath.

Halitosis can be caused by a number of things. In childhood, many children don ‘t practice proper dental hygiene, which can lead to an overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria. Of course, poor dental hygiene often continues into adulthood and can contribute to bad breath in adults.

However, all people with halitosis aren ‘t guilty of bad oral hygiene. Certain health conditions, as well as foods, tobacco products and more, can create bad breath.

In this section, we ‘ll discuss the many causes of bad breath. We ‘ll discuss how these factors contribute to halitosis and will also give you tips on how you can prevent bad breath linked to these causes.


Often, the foods we eat can give us bad breath. Onions and garlic are common culprits of halitosis. However, many other vegetables and even spices can contribute to bad breath.

When we eat foods linked to bad breath, the strong-smelling oils contained in the foods enter our bloodstreams, travel to our lungs and then exit the body through our breath.

Bad breath can also be caused when particles of food get caught in our teeth and begin to break down.

Dry Mouth

People who suffer from dry mouth often experience halitosis. In a normal, healthy mouth, saliva helps clean and moisten the oral cavity. When the mouth is dry, dead cells are able to build up on the gums, inner cheeks and tongue. It is the decomposition of these cells that creates bad breath.

Often, people experience dry mouth and the bad breath it causes in the morning.

Oral Bacteria

The buildup of oral bacteria in the mouth can lead to halitosis. In order to prevent the accumulation of oral bacteria, it is important to practice proper oral hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing.

Systematic Diseases

Sometimes bad breath can be indicative of a serious health condition. When people think of causes of bad breath, however, they often forget about systematic diseases.

Certain health conditions can create foul-smelling breath. One systematic disease that can lead to halitosis is diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes will often have sweet or fruity-smelling breath.

Kidney failure, liver failure and gastrointestinal disorders are other systematic diseases that can cause bad breath.


Most people know that tobacco products are bad for their health. Tobacco contributes to heart disease, cancer and more. However, the effects of tobacco also include bad breath.

Tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco, dry out your mouth, which creates bad breath. In addition, tobacco users are more likely than non-tobacco users to have periodontal disease, which is another cause of bad breath.

While mouthwashes and mints can mask the bad breath caused by tobacco, to truly escape bad breath, users should take steps to quit.


Mayo Clinic Staff (June 19, 2006). Bad breath. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/bad-breath/DS00025/DSECTION=1.